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Butter vs margarine: Which is the undisputed winner PLUS tips

  1. For many years we have been talking about the health benefits of butter vs. margarine. Opinions are divided, especially because both choices are not optimal. Still, we can point out a clear winner, but before I reveal it, I'd like to share a bit of history with you first.

How margarine was created

  1. In 1869, a French food chemist succeeded in making a cheap substitute for the real thing - butter - because butter had become scarce and expensive in the aftermath of a European livestock coat.

  2. In 1869, a French food chemist succeeded in making a cheap replacement for the real thing - butter - because butter had become scarce and expensive in the aftermath of a European cattle coat.

  1. The word margarine came from the Greek word for 'pearl' because the original version was hard, white and shiny. It must have been less than tasty too, because it was made from beef fat, milk and sheep stomach and cow udders, and then treated with heat, lye and pressure.

  1. In the early years, margarine was a meat product that depended on the beef and dairy industries and was attractive only because of its low cost relative to butter. In this period it was exclusively a product bought by poor people. In the early 1900s, food chemists discovered how to harden liquid oils by reacting them with hydrogen in the presence of metal catalysts and heat. Vegetable oil and fish oil then became raw materials for margarine, making margarine less dependent on the meat industry. Manufacturers bought the cheapest oils they could find anywhere, made them dull and tasteless through chemical processing, then made them margarine, which at the time still remained a product for the poorest of the poor.

  1. From the year 1920 onwards, only vegetable oils were used in the margarine and over the next 30 years busy food chemists greatly improved the spreadability, appearance, using a large number of chemical additives. , and especially the taste of margarine, always with the aim of giving the product a greater resemblance to butter.

Margarine as a healthy alternative?

  1. The main attraction of margarine was still its lower cost, but sales had grown dramatically by now, again posing a serious threat to the butter industry. Butter industry people responded with a bitter and dirty political battle to stunt margarine sales, but in the end they lost this battle due to an unforeseen change in consumer perception. Because of smart marketing techniques from producers, we have come to see margarine not only as a cheap substitute for butter, but as a healthy alternative, and it is precisely this change that mainly occurred among the well-educated and affluent class.

  2. The main attraction of margarine was still its lower cost, but sales had grown dramatically by now, again posing a serious threat to the butter industry. Butter industry people responded with a bitter and dirty political battle to stunt margarine sales, but in the end they lost this fight due to an unforeseen change in consumer perception. Because of smart marketing techniques from producers, we have come to see margarine not only as a cheap substitute for butter, but as a healthy alternative, and it is precisely this change that mainly occurred among the well-educated and affluent class.

  1. This new take on margarine, which the Dutch now use much more often as butter, developed together with an awareness of the role that saturated fat and cholesterol play in atherosclerosis, a degenerative disease of the arteries which increases our risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other circulatory disorders. Butter fat is not only a great source of saturated animal fats in our diet, but butter is also high in cholesterol. When doctors became convinced of the dangers of saturated fat and cholesterol, instead of butter, they began recommending the use of margarine to patients, and the margarine industry benefited from this development by emphasizing new formulations made exclusively from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as safflower oil, corn and soy. Manufacturers also stressed that margarine does not contain cholesterol.

  2. This new take on margarine, which the Dutch now use much more often as butter, developed together with an awareness of the role that saturated fat and cholesterol play in atherosclerosis, a degenerative disease of the arteries which increases our risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other circulatory disorders. Butter fat is not only a great source of saturated animal fats in our diet, but butter is also high in cholesterol. When doctors became convinced of the dangers of saturated fat and cholesterol, they began recommending the use of margarine to patients instead of butter, and the margarine industry took advantage of this development by emphasizing new ones. formulations made exclusively from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as safflower oil, corn and soy. Manufacturers also stressed that margarine does not contain cholesterol.

  1. So this process eventually led doctors, like other health-conscious people, to switch from butter to margarine. Many of these people will admit that they prefer the taste of butter, but just thought margarine was better for them.

  2. So this process eventually led doctors, like other health-conscious people, to switch from butter to margarine. Many of these people will admit they prefer the taste of butter, but just thought margarine was better for them.

  1. It wasn't until many years later, towards the end of the last century, that awareness began to grow that butter might not be the worse choice after all. New studies have also contributed to this awareness.

The real culprit

  1. Firstly, it is the total amount of fat in the diet that is linked to the risk of premature death and the main culprits in our society, namely cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. If there's one uncontested fact to emerge from confusing modern nutritional research, it is that typical high-fat diets are killing us. Most people live longer, feel better, and have less risk of premature death from heart disease, stroke and cancer if they limit their fat intake to 30 percent of the total number of calories in the diet. This is much less than what most people eat. The best way to do this is to avoid extra fats as much as possible, which is of course butter and margarine. Moreover, good bread is also delicious without butter and fresh vegetables are full of flavor without high-fat sauces.

  1. Second, while the danger to our heart and arteries is clearly partly caused by too much saturated fat in the diet, many people do not seem to understand that the process of hardening vegetable oils n also creates saturated fat through artificial hydrogenation. Namely, the chemical term "saturation" refers to the percentage of carbon atoms in fats that are fully bound to hydrogen atoms. The "more saturated" a fat is, the higher the temperature at which this fat is liquid.

  1. When stored in the refrigerator, polyunsaturated vegetable oils remain clear and liquid. Saturated fats such as beef, bacon fat and butter turn opaque and hard in the cold. It doesn't matter how unsaturated the oils used in the margarine are, they are made saturated by the process that turns them into a harder spread. Most brands of margarine don't reveal the percentage of saturated fat they contain, and while they don't contain cholesterol, they still stimulate your body to make cholesterol when you eat them. So margarine isn't really that good for your heart at all.

  1. However, that does not mean that we should use butter en masse. But nowadays butter also has a big drawback (in addition to the fact that it contains a lot of saturated fats). Butter can also contain residues of pesticides and other toxins. All of these compounds tend to be concentrated in fat, making high-fat dairy products worse for your health than low-fat versions. Of course, butter is the ultimate high-fat dairy product. Margarine may not contain antibiotics, but depending on where the oil comes from, the product may contain pesticides and other toxins. It also contains a variety of chemical additives. In short, either choice is not ideal - unless used sporadically.

  1. And if you buy butter, prefer organic grass butter, because it is not full of toxic substances and also contains a lot of vitamins.

Margarine a natural product?

  1. The most important thing we have not yet discussed, however, is the different chemical structures of the fatty acids that make up the two. Butter is actually a natural product and the fatty acids are structurally similar to the fatty acids in our body. The heat and chemicals used to turn vegetable oils into margarine also turn fatty acids into unnatural forms that are much less healthy than saturated fat. We therefore call these fats trans fats. And you've probably heard about the dangers of trans fats ...

  1. Unsaturated fatty acids contain carbon atoms linked together by double or triple bonds instead of being fully occupied by hydrogen atoms. These points determine the actual shape of the molecules.

  1. In nature, all these molecules have a curved shape that allows them to fit neatly into the membranes of all cells and the structures within. Heat and an aggressive chemical treatment can cause unsaturated fatty acids to explode into another shape called the trans configuration, so that they look connected instead of bent.

  1. However, the body cannot absorb these trans fatty acids into membranes, and trying to do so can lead to deformed cellular structures. The consumption of trans fatty acids in margarine, vegetable oil, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils increases the risk of cancer, promotes inflammation, and accelerates aging and degenerative changes in tissues. That is why there is also a warning against the consumption of trans fats, but many consumers do not seem to make the link between margarine and trans fats yet.

And the winner is ...

  1. Did you know that both butter and margarine contain the same amount of calories? Butter contains slightly more saturated fat, 8 grams compared to 5 grams. The consumption of margarine can increase cardiovascular disease in women by 53% compared to eating the same amount of butter, according to a study from Harvard Medical School.

  1. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods. Butter has many nutritional benefits, while margarine has only a few, and even these are added at the factory. Butter tastes much better than margarine and can improve the taste of other foods. In addition, butter has been used for centuries and margarine only about 100 years. So the long-term problems of margarine can still pile up.

  1. The advantages of margarine are few, but the disadvantages much more. Margarine is:

  1. Most troubling, however, is the following: Margarine is only one molecule away from plastic. This fact alone is enough to avoid margarine and other hydrogenated fats for the rest of your life.

  1. You can also try it out for yourself - and I certainly recommend it - so that you can see for yourself that margarine is not really intended for eating. Buy a container of margarine for this and leave the container open in your garage or another shady spot. You'll notice some interesting things in a few days.

  1. First, there aren't any flies, not even those pesky fruit flies, near the margarine. (That should say enough.) You won't find ants around it either, while this is the case with butter (you can also test this yourself). Margarine will not rot or smell different because it has no nutritional value. Nothing will grow on it. Even tiny microorganisms will not find a home to grow on. Why? Because margarine is almost plastic. You're not melting your plastic storage jars and smearing it on your bread, are you?

Tips

  1. 1. Choose Organic Grass-fed Butter - Now that you know that butter is the undisputed winner of the debate, it's important to make the most of it. Grass butter is rich in vitamins A, D and K and also contains far fewer toxins and antibiotics than other butter varieties. Grass butter is actually simply made from cows that are free to graze on pasture, so that they get more of their natural nutrition (grass) and thus more nutritional value ends up in the milk.

  1. 2. Limit your portions - Butter (and certainly grass-fed butter) is much healthier than margarine. But butter should also be eaten in moderation. After all, margarine has become so popular for a reason. The fact remains, of course, that butter is full of saturated fats, which should be reduced as much as possible.

  1. 3. Use butter for baking - There are actually very few fats that are suitable for baking. Butter can be heated better than other fats, making it better for baking and roasting. Olive oil should also not be used for this. However, to limit your consumption, it is better to use other fats on your bread. For example, consider decorating your sandwich with a mashed avocado, just as delicious as butter and much healthier!

  1. 4. Ghee as an alternative to butter - Are you hypersensitive to dairy products and can you not tolerate butter? Then consider the option to use ghee. This is actually clarified butter or butter oil, without solid milk particles and is therefore also suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. In addition, ghee has been praised for its health benefits and has been referred to as the golden oil.

Finally ...

  1. If you really strive for a healthy lifestyle and diet, try to limit the extra fats in your diet as much as possible. A little oil for frying and olive oil on your salad is fine, but otherwise, your food contains enough fats that your body needs without having to add extra.

  1. In short, avoid margarine and enjoy butter in moderation!



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